In our 2020 South African Mountain Biking Survey, presented by Garmin, one of the questions we asked was: Which is your favourite local mountain bike trail (the one you ride most)? We haven’t published the results yet because it’s not so straight forward. But finally, here’s the breakdown of which are the most popular South African mountain bike trails.

By Sean Badenhorst

Where would we be without mountain bike trails? I’ll tell you where we’d be… We’d be finding sections of non-fenced public and private land to ride. We’d be riding along public green belts and inside national park boundaries as well as through privately owned forest lands. We’d be either knowingly, or unknowingly trespassing. We’d feel like rebels much of the time. Events/races would be our best way to get in a decent – legal – ride.

I know this because this is how it was until around 2005 when the first dedicated mountain bike trails were built with landowner permission. It may have been a bit different in the Western Cape (I never rode there in those early years), but for the majority of the country, that’s how it was. We dreamed of having loads of legal mountain bike trails, built specifically for mountain biking enjoyment – with landowner support.

Buffelsdrift, Pretoria

So you can imagine how good it feels for me – and others who started mountain biking in those early years – to be able to roll up to a trailhead, pay a trail fee and just go and enjoy trails made specifically for mountain biking! It really is like a dream come true. No matter what the trail fee is, it’s worth it.

As mentioned in the introduction, a simple question didn’t result in a simple answer. The main reason being that Tyberberg Mountain Bike Club in Durbanville, near Cape Town, has a number of individual trails parks in its network. Some wrote one of the trails parks as their answer and others wrote Tygerberg MTB Club as a whole. That scuppered our plans, so we did the obvious thing – we never published the results. Until now.

Tokai, Cape Town

As we have been working on the launch of our 2021 TREAD Top Trail campaign, we decided that the information is worth sharing because when we ask this question later this year in our 2021 SA Mountain Biking Survey, we want to ensure we have answers that help us rather challenge us.

So ,it’s no surprise that trails parks in densely populated areas will have the biggest number of mentions in the answers. It’s just how it is. Here’s a reminder of the geographic breakdown of the respondents in our survey.

Northern Farm, Johannesburg

A total of 2780 answered this particular question and here’s the way the trails fared in the survey – the top 30:

1 Buffelsdrift, Gauteng 272
2 Northern Farm, Gauteng 210
3 Braamfontein Spruit, Gauteng 156
4 Tokai, Western Cape 139
5 Rosemary Hill, Gauteng 128
6 Big Red Barn, Gauteng 123
7 The Cradle Loop, Gauteng 108
8 Tygerberg MTB Club, Western Cape* 101
9 Jonkershoek, Western Cape 83
10 Taroko Trails, Gauteng 80
11 Wolwespruit, Gauteng 76
12 Thaba Trails, Gauteng 70
  Holla Trails, KwaZulu-Natal 70
14 Giba Gorge, KwaZulu-Natal 64
15 Cradle Moon, Gauteng 55
16 Hazeldean/Cowhouse, Gauteng 54
17 Bloemendal, Western Cape* 49
18 Bottelary Hills, Western Cape 45
19 Hennops, Gauteng 40
20 Karkloof Country Club, KwaZulu-Natal 39
21 Meerendal, Western Cape* 38
22 Baakens Valley, Eastern Cape 36
  Hoogekraal, Western Cape* 36
24 Table Mountain, Western Cape 35
25 Van Gaalen, North West 32
26 Contermanskloof, Western Cape* 31
27 Crossways, Eastern Cape 29
28 3 Rivers, Eastern Cape 22
  Grootfontein, Gauteng 22
30 Cascades, KwaZulu-Natal 20
  Hobby Park, Gauteng 20
  The Rest 477

If we were to combine all of the individual trails parks that fall within the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club network (Bloemendal, Meerendal, Hoogekraal and Contermanskloof) and add them to the existing tally, that would give 255, which would place the Tygerberg MTB Network second in terms of overall popularity.

Meerendal/Tygerberg MTB Club, Durbanville

We have listed ‘The Rest’ as a combined number at the bottom. In total, we had 139 mountain bike trails/trails parks mentioned in answers to this question. One-hundred-and-thirty-nine! Jeez, that’s a lot of dedicated mountain bike trail riding.

It’s worth noting that ‘most popular’ doesn’t necessarily mean best. So, with that in mind, here’s a reminder of our TREAD Top 15 Trails for 2020:

1 Karkloof Country Club, KwaZulu-Natal

2 MTO Jonkershoek, Western Cape

3 Drakensberg Trails, KwaZulu-Natal

4 Tygerberg MTB Club, Western Cape

5 Banhoek Conservancy, Western Cape

6 Stellenbosch, Western Cape

7 Oak Valley/Paul Cluver, Western Cape

8 Giba Gorge, KwaZulu-Natal

9 Holla Trails, KwaZulu-Natal

10 Northern Farm, Gauteng

11 Buffelsdrift, Gauteng

12 Cradle Moon, Gauteng

13 Tokai, Western Cape

14 Braamfontein Spruit, Gauteng

15 Big Red Barn, Gauteng

More information on Trails ranked 15-6 here.

And more information on the top 5 trails here.